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There is Hope and Hope

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Tahani twirled around her new home, taking it in.

This mansion is simply marvelous. The foyer is a little asymmetrical and she’d never display yellow tulips in an ecru foyer. But those are small details, easily fixed. She can get Janet to magic her up some new ones when she’s finished her little project of populating the neighbourhood.

Though the colour palate does remind her of the almost disaster at Guo Pei’s Legends couture show before Tahani was able to step in and get the cathedral to set up a more flattering lighting scheme. You can’t display metallic fabrics with flat lighting, all of the lustre would be lost.

She turned to remark on the similarities when she realised she was all alone. And the space was rather cavernous. Almost like the cathedral Pei was displaying her gowns in, really. It does rather take the shine off of her insights when she can’t share it with anyone.

Maybe a walk would clear her head.

She took a stroll over the pond, past the meadow and she found herself drawn into the centre of town where she stumbled right into the centre square. Janet was standing there, fists clenched, straining. She looked nothing so much as a toddler a second away from throwing a tantrum. It was almost comical and she thought Jason would appreciate the laugh, but when she looked over he was glaring daggers at that strange man. She thought about approaching but she did not want to get into the middle of that situation, so she continued on.

There were some delightful peonies planted, those might be acceptable to trimming.

She heard a noise and went towards it. Curiously, it was coming from the top floor of the frozen yogurt townhouse. She didn’t know why every building needed multiple stories, but they all had one.

As she went up the stairs, she heard Eleanor giggle. Intrigued she continued on until rounding the corner her eyes were arrested by the display of Eleanor and Chidi making out. His shirt was half unbuttoned, revealing a shockingly toned chest. Is that an Australian requirement? Do they hand them a surfboard and a fitness mandate with their naturalisation papers? She was sure none of her professors at Oxford had anything near that musculature.

She was staring. She dragged her eyes up to Chidi’s face.

“Oh, hi Tahani.” He was fruitlessly trying to hold his shirt closed over his chest but it could not be contained. She shook herself a little.

“I was exploring and I heard a noise.”

“Oh, that’s probably when we bumped into that wardrobe and it fell over. Surprisingly flimsy, you think the afterlife could spring for better than some Ikea knockoff.”

“Yes, rather.” Eleanor always managed to answer a question you’d never ask while never answering any of the questions you do have. “Sorry, what were you doing up here?” Aside from the obvious, her brain supplied.

“We’re going to fork all over this neighbourhood before Janet’s finished popping out all those freaky pod people.”

“Ah, right.” She forced a tight smile. “Well, don’t let me stop you.” Behind her Eleanor and Chidi carried out some furious whispering.

“Tahani wait,” Chidi called out and she turned. “Why aren’t you setting up your mansion?”

“If you must know, I was feeling a little lonely.”

“Wait, really?” Eleanor didn’t need to sound so surprised, “but I thought you loved having your own space and all that shirt.”

She sat down on the turned over wardrobe. Chidi winced a little and she decided she didn’t want to know. “Yes, turns out I’ve become accustomed to having someone around to share our little jokes. And now Jason has his strange arrangement with Janet -- which I helped them sort out, much like I helped my good friends Kate and Leo reconcile -- and you two have each other. And I’m just. Tahani. Alone.”

Eleanor sat down next to her and Chidi had no reaction, which didn’t really give her more information about the state of the wardrobe. Eleanor smiled at her, that expression that always let her know that a rare moment of devastating earnestness was about to follow.“You’re not ‘just Tahani.’ You’re fierce, girl.”

“Yes, well.” She tried not to preen at the way Eleanor’s praise always made her feel.

“Say, I have an idea.” She looked meaningfully over at Chidi, raised her eyebrows, and then looked back at Tahani.

“Oh, uh, really? Is that… a good idea?”

“Why not dude! We aren’t getting any deader. Besides, we have a lot of buildings to get through and we could use the support.”

“That’s definitely a point that you just made,” his brows came together in the middle, “but is that really the most meaningful thing to think about right now? There are boundaries and, and negotiations, and I’m pretty sure de Beauvoir said something that would apply --” While a flustered Chidi lecture was usually delightful, it was always better when she knew what it was about.

“Sorry? Can one of tell me what’s going on?” Chidi deflated and Eleanor must have seen something in his silhouette because she beamed.

Then she turned her luminous smile on Tahani, which always melted her a little despite herself. “What do you say, hot stuff? You, me, Chidi, this bed, right now.” And that’s when her brain flipped itself inside out, shook itself for spare pound coins, and then took a couple of tries to get lodged back in correctly. And after all that, she was still faced with a world where her dearest friends were inviting her to a threesome.

“Are you,” her voice was too loud, “inviting me to a threesome?” She leaned in to better convey her incredulousness.

“Think about it: you’re hot, we’re here, what else is there to worry about. And I know you’ve been wanting to see these again.” She gestured at her bosom and Tahani did have to concede the point. “Besides, we’re stuck together for all eternity, this was bound to happen at some point and now seems a good a time as any.”

“Actually the part about being stuck together is the one I’m the most worried about -- wait did you say again?” Eleanor just shook her head at Tahani wide-eyed like, can you believe this guy? It was such a rush of nostalgia and belonging that Tahani found herself tilting up her chin and saying,

“Let’s do it.”

“O-okay then.” Chidi walked over to stand in front of them, mercifully no longer holding his shirt. She let herself drink in the view.

“I know right? Surprised me too. You could bounce a quarter off of them.”

“Hmm yes, I suppose you could.” She reached out a hand but before she made contact she cast a look at Eleanor, is this all right? Most of her couldn’t believe this was happening. But Eleanor just waved her hand magnanimously and Tahani let her hand make contact. Warm.

“Just so you know, you are definitely objectifying me by Dworkin’s definition. And I am...into it. Huh. Apparently I like that, good to know.”

“Get down here.” Chidi kneeled in front of Eleanor and she reeled him in by the shirt edges for a blistering kiss. Having been invited, Tahani drank it in. They looked good together.

Eleanor reached out her hand and tentatively, Tahani placed hers within it. Eleanor firmly interlaced their fingers and Tahani shivered all over. Eleanor and Chidi broke apart and Chidi seemed a lot more settled. Which was somewhat surprising because if Eleanor kissed her like that she was pretty sure that calm was the last thing she’d be feeling.

And then Eleanor was pulling her hand towards Chidi and she was looking into his eyes. The closer her hand got to him, the faster her heart beat and the steadier he stared back at her, almost like all of his anxiety was being transferred directly into her. But it wasn’t a bad feeling, not like when he got his stomach aches, it was an anticipation and excitement that made her lick her lips.

All he did was press a soft kiss against the back of her hand. Embarrassingly, Eleanor had to steady her as she swooned.

“Don’t worry bud, it gets me like that sometimes too.”

“What --” she squeaked and tried again. “What do you want to do.”

That silenced the group for a bit.

“Well,” Chidi said. “I think, as a first step, we should all move to the bed. And then also maybe we are all wearing a few too many clothes. Or at least you are.” And he shrugged off his shirt to bare his full torso. Those shoulders! They shouldn’t have been a surprise, and yet. How had she never known they were there, lurking. Also, this was a new, confident Chidi. She’d noticed a change in the last few days and she had to say, she liked it.

“You’re so smart,” Eleanor said, smiling again and pulling Tahani to her feet. She couldn’t do anything but follow.

Once they got close to the edge, Eleanor pushed her down onto her back and started kissing her, straddling her hips. This was more familiar, but Eleanor always kissed with an edge, like she’d stolen something from the Gods and they were coming by any minute to drag her off.

Eleanor pulled back to lift off her shirt, but she didn’t get to appreciate the view because Chidi leaned in, “Can I?” and she nodded and they were kissing.

Chidi’s kisses were different. His lips were softer and steadier; if Eleanor stole her kisses, Chidi’s were a gift, soft as snowfall and just as blinding.

“Damn, that’s hot.” Eleanor was fully shirtless now and leaning back on her heels. She saw Tahani looking and winked. “Bet you missed these.”

“Hmm, yes,” Tahani acknowledged and tweaked Eleanor’s nipple in the way she knew she liked when she was warmed up but not yet desperate. Eleanor rewarded her with a gasp.

“Ok, you’re wearing too many clothes,”

“That’s hardly my fault--” but the rest of her defense was lost as Eleanor rolled her a little and Chidi unzipped her dress. Three seconds and she was in nothing but her undergarments.

“Garter belt--she’s wearing--”

“I know bud. She’s always wearing one, because she is mean. If you ask her nicely, she’ll even keep it on for you.” Why wouldn’t she be wearing a garter belt? The best stockings are silk and they don’t make those with proper nylon tops so it’s a garter or to watch them roll down her ankles, and she’s never needed the cheap publicity of a planned wardrobe malfunction, unlike some former Disney stars she could name.

Eleanor smiled at her wickedly. “Remember that time when we stayed late at the lab and I ripped right through--” Tahani did remember, vividly. Her lace Coco de Mer knickers hadn’t been flimsy but they’d been no match for an Eleanor who was determined to make her come for the third time.

“Did you say in the lab?”

“There were a lot of late night study sessions, you can’t trap two attractive people in a room and expect nothing to happen--get over it.” Chidi closed his mouth with a click but his brows were still on maximum furrow. Tahani took a liberty and kissed him, which he melted into quite gratifyingly.

“So. Garters on or off?” The question was for Chidi.

His brows smoothed out. “Off, I think. This time.” And wasn’t that just a thrill.

Really, the whole thing was surprisingly easy. Eleanor had them well in-hand and would move them around as she saw fit. She would be a fearsome general if she applied her focus to a less specialised area of expertise. But as it was Tahani wasn’t complaining.

And she remembered. Eleanor remembered all of the things Tahani liked and she had no difficulty teaching them to Chidi. A hysterical giggle escaped her. She was imagining Eleanor up at the front of the roof with a chalkboard, carefully gesturing to diagrams as Chidi took notes. Eleanor was taking a much more hands on approach here, offering praise and hands-on corrections depending. She was never going to be able to hear the phrase, ‘you got it’ without thinking of Chidi just barely pressing nails down her back with the exact right speed and pressure.

It went both ways as Eleanor took Tahani to class about Chidi. Eleanor was willing to squeeze a lot harder and grind a lot slower than Tahani ever would have dared.

When Eleanor first wrapped her hand around Tahani’s and showed her just how hard she couldn’t help the way her eyes flew open in worry. But Eleanor just smiled back at her so reassuringly, with such confidence that Tahani kept on and was richly rewarded with a moan from Chidi.

If she’d been at all worried that she was fantasising, that put paid to it. Never in a million years, or a thousand reboots, could she have pictured how Chidi arched his back when she got him just right.

She lost track of time in that room. It felt like as soon as one of them was sated, another was ready to go, or as Eleanor described it, it was a ‘vortex of orgasms.’

But finally even Eleanor had to give up when Tahani’s legs started to develop a twitch that even Eleanor couldn’t wrestle down.

“Nice job team, we can definitely call that a wild success.” Chidi just flailed out a hand to pat her on the wrist a couple of times. Tahani was grateful because that meant she didn’t have to respond -- she wasn’t sure she could control her body that far. She simultaneously felt like she was floating but also alive in every centimeter of her skin. It was a confusing sensation, but then, it had been a confusing month.

Eleanor got up, which provoked a groan out of Tahani and Chidi, but she was just getting a blanket to put over their feet. Otherwise the temperature was perfectly pleasant, fitting with the Good Place deception. Just warm enough to be normal, but not so perfect that you didn’t get cold feet. She arranged them carefully, both across her chest, close enough to kiss if they wanted, so they did. Just a soft peck and a smile that said ‘I see you.’

Tahani was drifting a little, Eleanor running her hands through her hair, when the door burst open.

“Guys?” Jason’s tone was so perfectly confused and concerned. Tahani wanted to hide from it forever. But instead she opened her eyes. Great, it was both Janet and Jason. At least Michael wasn’t there.

“Hi there. Jason got bored watching me make people, so we thought we’d find you!” Janet gave a bright smile.

Across from her, Chidi was ineffectually trying to pull at the blanket.

“Hey Jason, we’re a little busy right now so if you --”

“You’re having a soul squad cuddle puddle? Without me?” He looked so sad. What a strange man. “Janet? Can I?”

“Of course, Jason.” And Janet gave him a thumbs up before chiming out of existence.

Tahani had a moment to be worried before Jason bounded over to the bed, provoking a flurry of limbs as Eleanor and Chidi scrambled to not get stepped on. Jason squeezed them all into a hug which was...desperately uncomfortable from a breathing perspective, notwithstanding the general sweatiness and lack of clothing.

“Jason! I’m not wearing any clothing!”

“Also I can’t breathe,” Chidi gasped out, a little muffled. Tahani wasn’t sure which one of them had the correct priorities.

“Oh. Sorry.” He stopped squeezing but made no other move to separate from them.

“Not that we don’t want to...cuddle puddle...with you but we’re kind of naked here, so.”

“That’s ok, Janet told me Tahani and I used to date so I figure we’ve been here before. So. Nothing I haven’t seen.”

Chidi was muttering something, probably philosophy related. But really, now that Jason was here, it was kind of nice? Especially when they all started cooperating to get the blanket pulled up and Jason positioned comfortably across their ankles. Even Chidi seemed relaxed, either channeling some of that confidence he’d had recently or either finally tired out by all of their physical activity. At this point, they were all so close together they were almost breathing as one. So she felt really clearly when Chidi tensed.

But all he said was, “You know what? This is...nice.” Tahani felt, rather than saw, Eleanor’s smile pressed against her temple. “If I had to spend eternity with anyone, I’m glad it’s you.”

“Well, we are --” Eleanor began.

“It’s not about how hot we are.”

“But you admit, we are hot.” Eleanor couldn’t help herself, really. Jason put up his hand and Eleanor high-fived it, the smack resounding through the room. Chidi cleared his throat.

“Go on, Chidi,” Tahani encouraged. Chidi cleared his throat.

“We’ve been through so much together. I know you guys.” Maybe too well, Tahani thought, thinking about Jason’s easy dismissal of their post-coital state and how little she was surprised when he still wanted to hang out with them.

“Thanks, Chidi. Same.” How could Eleanor be so confident in bed and then so awkward, well, also in bed, but talking about feelings.

“Of course you like us dude, we’re dope. Brainy bunch rules!” Jason let out a whoop and for some reason that’s what set her off and she burst out laughing.  

“Yeah, Brainy Bunch does rule,” Eleanor said a little bullishly, but her eyes were soft as she took everyone in. Maybe it was such a small thing, in the scheme of the universe, them piled into this bed all together, but right now it felt like as long as they were together, they could do anything.